Oval Office

1:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everyone.  Thanks.  Thanks for coming in.  These are members of the House, Senate — Democrat, Republican — who all have an extremely keen interest in doing what — what I said once before: that I’d love to be the President to preside over the end of cancer as we know it.  These are the folks in the House and Senate who would love to preside over cancer — the end of cancer as we know it.  And they were — all were critical in the CARES Act, which put about $9 billion into NIH to deal with cancer and cancer research. 

And the Vice President and I are of the view that we can make significant strides in fighting cancer and Alzheimer’s and other diseases, if we take a slightly different approach.  And what I want to talk with them about today is how we go about taking advantage of the work they’ve done to get us where we are today, because I think we’re on the cusp of some real breakthroughs across the board on cancer.  And that’s what we’re going to talk about.

And probably to all of you, like all of us, cancer is personal for almost everybody.  It’s probably the one word that is the most frightening word in the English language to people.  When they hear that “C word,” cancer, it is — it is just devastating. 

And I always ask at — when I talk about cancer, I ask the audience if they — to raise their hand, if any of them were suffering from cancer as I spoke, and/or they lost someone, and virtually 70 percent of every audience — whether or not it’s 4,000 people or 400 people.  And a lot of folks in this room have, like many of you maybe have been victims of cancer and overcome it.

But there’s so much hope that that’s what I want to talk about with these folks — about what we do, from a legislative and a substance point of view, to make the kind of inroads I think we can make.  That’s what we’re talking about today. 

Thank you for coming in.  And we’re — I’m optimistic we’re going to get something done here.

Q    Mr. President, troops — U.S. troops were targeted with rocket attacks.  How do you respond? 

THE PRESIDENT:  We are following that through right now.  Thank God no one was killed by the rocket.  One individual, a contractor, died of a heart attack.  But we’re identifying who is responsible, and we’ll make judgments from that point. 

Okay?  Thank you.

Q    Do you have a response to Texas relaxing its COVID restrictions? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t hear the question. 

Q    Message to Texas and Mississippi — Texas and Mississippi?

Q    (Inaudible) COVID restrictions?

THE PRESIDENT:  Texas — I think it’s a big mistake.  Look, I hope everybody has realized by now: These masks make a difference. 

We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms.  We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American to get — every adult American to get a shot.  And the last thing — the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your mask. 

Forget it.  It still matters. 

I carry a card with me — I don’t have it.  I put it on my desk.  As of last — as of yesterday, we had lost 511,874 Americans.  We’re going to lose thousands more.  This will not occur — we’ll not have everybody vaccinated until sometime in the summer.  We have the vaccine to do it.  Getting a shot in someone’s arm and getting the second shot are going to take time.  And it’s critical — critical, critical, critical — that they follow the science: Wash your hands — hot water; do it frequently.  Wear a mask.  And stay socially distanced. 

And I know you all know that.  I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it. 

So thank you very much.

1:55 P.M. EST

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